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Drink up! When you stay hydrated, your heart benefits

Drink up! When you stay hydrated, your heart benefits

You probably know that you should drink water and stay hydrated to keep your body functioning at its best. A tall glass of water is the perfect fix when you’re feeling thirsty or melting after an afternoon spent outdoors in our summer heat. Staying hydrated involves much more than simply drinking water when you’re thirsty, though.

Read on as our Touro team explains why practicing good hydration habits can help you beat the heat and stay healthy as you age.

The facts about hydration and the heart

Water can quench your thirst, but what can it do for your heart health? A lot, it turns out.

A 2022 study released by the National Institutes of Health found that drinking a sufficient amount of water may reduce the risk of developing heart failure, a specific type of heart disease. The study looked at data and health information shared by more than 11,000 adults from a 25-year period.

Participants in the study didn’t have a history of heart failure, diabetes or obesity when the study began. To gauge participants’ hydration levels and connect them with heart failure, researchers studied serum sodium levels in their blood. Serum sodium levels are higher when fluid in the body is lower. Those with higher serum sodium levels had a higher risk of developing heart problems, according to preliminary findings, and not staying sufficiently hydrated is associated heart failure and other types of heart disease.

Why is that? While researchers still need to conduct further studies to make a firm conclusion, they do know that too much sodium in the blood can make your heart work harder to pump blood and cause high blood pressure, which can damage the heart.

How much water is enough?

That’s a tricky question! Different people will have varying amounts of water needed to stay fully hydrated. There’s no one-size-fits-all guideline, and you may need more water some days than others, particularly if you’re being physically active.

The best way to determine whether you’re drinking enough fluids is to take a look at your urine. If it’s pale yellow or clear, you’re well-hydrated. When it’s darker, you need to drink more.

Don’t depend on thirst to remind you to drink water because by the time you feel thirsty, you’re actually already a little dehydrated. Make it a habit to drink water consistently throughout the day instead.

Sneaky tips for getting the water you need

Don’t love plain water? Many people find it boring. The good news is there are other ways to make sure your body is getting the fluids it needs to stay healthy and keep your heart pumping at its best. Try these tips:

Add flavor to your water. Try adding mint, slices of cucumber or bits of fruit to your water to liven it up or using zero-calorie flavor packets for the same effect. A little fruit punch flavor can add a little punch to your water!

Eat your water. Yes, you read that right. Many fruits and vegetables have a high water content, so you can get a good amount of fluid from the foods you eat. Having a salad? Add cucumbers, iceberg or romaine lettuce, celery and tomatoes, which all contain more than 90% water. Looking for a sweet treat? Enjoy a slice of watermelon, a piece of cantaloupe or some berries.

Mix up your drink of choice. While water is your best source for staying hydrated, other noncaffeinated drinks will also help your body replenish fluids. If you’re exercising or spending time outdoors, you might find zero-calorie sports drinks to be a tasty way to replenish your fluids and electrolytes. Even a glass of skim milk contains quite a bit of water. If you simply need a little pizzazz, try carbonated water to add some bubbles. Steer clear of caffeinated drinks and alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate the body.

Build a pre-meal water habit. Drink a small glass of water before eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. This can be especially helpful if you have a hard time remembering to drink up throughout the day. There’s an added benefit, too—drinking water before a meal can help you better discern whether you’re hungry or not and when to stop eating.

Wondering whether your heart’s working at its best? Touro Heart & Vascular Care is here to help, offering comprehensive diagnosis and treatment options.